I'm just back from attending the Welfare-to-Work Convention in Manchester - two days of discussion and debate on how the welfare-to-work system needs to work better to tackle worklessness. I attended some great sessions that were helpful in thinking through the role innovation can play.
First up for me was a debate on localisation of welfare-to-work - Naomi Clayton from Centre for Cities, Kris Kranowski from Cabinet Office, Stephen Evans, Working Links and Dave Simmonds from Inclusion discussed the implications of policies like City Deals on getting more people back to work in cities. This is something we've been exploring at Nesta, talking to cities involved in the process about how to stimulate innovation in getting people back to work in their areas.
I then went to a session on Apprenticeships and Traineeships - Helen Radcliffe from National Apprenticeship Service presented plans for pre-Apprenticeship traineeships which may prove more suitable for some unemployed people accessing the Work Programme. At Nesta we're really interested in Apprenticeships as a way of blurring the line between work and learning and have been capturing innovations like these that use Apprenticeship-type models to help get people back to work.
Laura Gardiner and I were Showcasing the jobs innovators and talking about the work we've been doing
and the examples we've been collecting on the living map of jobs innovators
. There was a lot of interest from Work Programme providers on how we could connect these examples into Work Programme delivery, something we will be following up.
We've been encouraging the welfare-to-work sector to get better at using data, so it was great to go to a session on data analytics in the Work Programme
from Vinny Pattison of Ingeus - the largest Work Programme provider. They are one of the few examples I've come across of seriously using data as a way of redesigning services.
Finally, before catching my train home, was a session on What Work Programme 2 should look like from Sean Williams at G4S, as the design of Work Programme 2 is beginning now, with the Work Programme coming to an end in 2016. This was a bold statement of what went wrong in designing Work Programme mark one, and there were a lot of suggestions on how what comes next could be designed differently to encourage more innovation.
All in all, there's clearly a lot of work to do in getting innovation embedded in the system to get people back to work, but also clearly a lot of appetite.